First Things First…
How do we organize our lives to put first things first?
How do we show that we know who is in charge of our lives and the events of history?
We give top attention to Jesus.
We fit everything else under that priority.
In this chapter we see that Jesus is superior to Moses because Jesus served as a son over God’s house while Moses was a servant in … God’s house (Heb. 3:1-6).
A son with authority is more significant than a servant without authority.
Thus, rejecting Jesus is more serious than rejecting Moses (3:7-19).
The generation of Israelites who wandered in the wilderness had rejected God’s commands and paid a stiff price (Num. 14:20-38).
Don’t repeat their mistake.
Read Hebrews 3:
The Failure of God’s People under Moses (Heb 3:7-19)…
Rejecting Jesus in unbelief is more serious than rejecting Moses, so God’s people need encouragement to overcome sin and endure in their commitment to Christ.
Verses 7-11 quote Psalm 95:7b-11 to compare the experience of Israel with that of the church.
These believers faced a serious danger, and they needed to avoid repeating Israel’s failures and experiencing Israel’s fate.
Psalm 95 begins with praise (vv. 1-7a) and concludes with a warning (vv. 7b-11), based on the story recorded in Exodus
The judgment mentioned occurred in Numbers 14:20-38. The writer of Hebrews followed the psalmist in urging his readers not to imitate the folly of the generation of Jews who died in the wilderness under God’s judgment.
Two words in verse 7 catch our attention.
First, though a human author penned the words, the writer of Hebrews knew that the Holy Spirit was speaking.
He recognized these words as a strong warning based on divine authority.
Second, he used the psalmist’s reference to Today to apply the words to his readers.
He went back into the Old Testament history, but his mind was on his readers.
He wanted them to hear the present voice of God in the ancient message.
Hardening the heart takes place whenever someone rejects God’s call or instructions.
Hardening is an action which we develop in ourselves by our own choice to disobey God.
A constant response of resistance leads to a habit of disobedience and to a judicial sentence from God.
The wilderness generation hardened their own hearts, and it was possible that the readers of Hebrews might do the same thing.
The term rebellion in Hebrews 3:8 is translated as Meribah in Psalm 95:8.
The term testing in Hebrews 3:8 is translated as Massah in Psalm 95:8.
The terms describe the attitudes of the Jewish people mentioned in Exodus 17:1-7 and above all in Numbers 14:20-38.
Throughout the entire period from Exodus 17 to Numbers 14, the Jewish people had rebelled against the Lord.
For forty years they resisted God’s demands. They had hardened their hearts.
God was slow to anger, but forty years was too much even for Him.
Their rebellion developed into a settled habit of mind and led God to pronounce judgment.
Hebrews warns against a repetition of rebellion against God.
The reference to forty years would have special significance if forty years had passed since the ministry of Jesus.
Many scholars believe that the author penned Hebrews just before A.D. 70.
God could have been warning the Christian readers that just as He had dealt with Israel for a probationary period of forty years, so now they, too, had arrived at the end of the same period of probation.
They had a special reason to avoid the deceitfulness of sin (3:13).
Does God really become angry? We can answer “yes” to that question, but God’s anger does not resemble human anger.
We become angry when a sales clerk takes too long or when a slow car forces us to wait at a red light.
God’s anger always has a just cause, and it does not show a peevish nature in God but a consistent opposition to sin.
We often use human analogies to understand God.
Whenever we attribute a human emotion such as anger to God, we produce many questions in understanding what happened.
However, unless we express God in such human terms, we will find it hard to understand Him.
God does become angry, but He tempers His anger with justice and love.
Two actions of the Jews in the wilderness contributed to divine anger.
First, the Jews habitually strayed from God.
Second, they did not know God’s ways.
One sin reinforced the other. This persistent practice of sin led God to deliver His verdict with an oath.
The reference to an oath seems to reflect Numbers 14:21, where God supported His Word with an oath.
God used this oath when the spies returned to bring an unfavorable report of the prospects for entering the Promised Land.
The people of Israel rebelled against trusting God and accused Moses of bringing them to the wilderness to die.
God swore that such rebels would never experience His rest.
For the present we can realize that all rebels place themselves outside of God’s protection.
These cantankerous people had to move ahead on their own resources.
Dreadful failure lay ahead.
Later the Jews would clearly learn that it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:31).
All of us can learn from observing what has happened in the past.
We can apply past experiences to the present.
When we find hints of the past recurring in the present, we call that pattern typology.
In this instance a typological interpretation of the Exodus is used to warn the readers of Hebrews not to imitate the actions of the wilderness generation.
The present generation could also fall into the same pattern of unbelief.
The warning message of the writer of Hebrews was quite clear. Readers could see what happened to those who fell in the wilderness.
They could realize that they faced the same dangers. They must turn from their foolish disobedience before it was too late!
We should warn each other about the danger of missing God’s rest.
If we let doubt about God’s promises, lack of trust in His power, or rejection of His love overtake us, we could forfeit the good things He has for us.
Our hearts turn away from the living God when we stubbornly refuse to believe Him.
If we persist in our unbelief, God will eventually leave us alone in our sin and rebellion.
But God can give us new hearts, new desires, and new spirits (Ezekiel 36:22-27).
To prevent yourself from having an unbelieving heart, stay in fellowship with other believers, talk daily with them about your mutual faith, be aware of the deceitfulness of sin (which attracts but also destroys), and encourage one another with love and concern.
Max Lucado’s Life Lessons…
As God’s Son, Jesus’ authority surpassed any prophet or angel.
He is God, yet He became man.
Because Jesus became man, we know He understands our human frustrations.
Ever have so many demands that you can’t stop for lunch?
[Jesus] can relate.
“For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat” (Mark 6:31).
Do you have too much email to fit in a screen or too many calls to make in a day?
Christ has been there.
“Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them” (Matthew 15:30).
How about family tension?
“When His family heard what was happening, they tried to take Him home with them.
‘He’s out of his mind,’ they said” (Mark 3:21 NLT).
Have you been falsely accused?
Enemies called Jesus a wino and a chowhound (Matthew 11:19).
The night before His death people “sought false testimony against Jesus to put Him to death” (Matthew 26:59).
Do your friends ever let you down?
When Christ needed help, His friends dozed off.
“What? Could you not watch with Me one hour?” (Matthew 26:40).
Unsure of the future? Jesus was. Regarding the last day of history, He explained,
“Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36).
Can Jesus be the Son of God and not know something?
He can if He chooses not to.
Knowing you would face the unknown, He chose to face the same.
Jesus has been there. “He Himself has suffered, being tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
Jesus was angry enough to purge the temple, hungry enough to eat raw grain, distraught enough to weep in public, fun loving enough to be called a drunkard, winsome enough to attract kids, weary enough to sleep in a storm-bounced boat, poor enough to sleep on dirt and borrow a coin for a sermon illustration, radical enough to get kicked out of town, responsible enough to care for His mother, tempted enough to know the smell of Satan, and fearful enough to sweat blood.
But why? Why would heaven’s finest Son endure earth’s toughest pain?
So you would know that “He is able to aid those who are tempted” (Hebrews 2:18).
(From Next Door Savior by Max Lucado)
Jesus knows all about life on earth. Tell Him what will be your biggest temptations and struggles today.
Ask Him to provide you with strength and encouragement. He knows how you feel.
by Two Listeners
WHEN FAITH FAILS
“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.”
— Hebrews 3:12
“Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)
This cry of the human heart is as expressive of human need as it was when uttered to Me while I was on earth. It expresses the soul’s progress.
As a soul realizes Me and My Power, and knows Me as Helper and Savior, that soul believes in Me more and more.
At the same time it is more conscious than before of its falling short of absolute trust in Me.
“Lord, I believe. Help Thou mine unbelief.”
The soul’s progress – an increased belief – then a cry for more faith – a plea to conquer all unbelief, all lack of trust.
That cry heard. That prayer answered. More faith, and at the same time more power to see where trust is lacking.
My children seek to go up this path, leading by each stage, nearer to Me.
Now unto Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
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